When officers are attacked
Footage shows harrowing confrontation between a Sacramento police officer and an unregistered sex offender
Four days before Davis police Officer Natalie Corona was gunned down during a routine traffic incident by someone who shouldn’t have had access to a firearm, a Sacramento police officer came within a clicking trigger of a potentially similar fate.
The Sacramento Police Department declined to release the officer’s name or time on the force, but did provide video of the January 6 incident, which captured just how quickly a typical traffic stop can escalate into law enforcement’s worst fear—and conveyed how long 90 seconds can feel when you’re wrestling with someone who may be trying to kill you.
A dream cut short
By many accounts, Corona was living her dream on January 10 when the 22-year-old responded to a three-car collision in the small college town where she had gone from an exuberant volunteer to a fully sworn officer.
Kevin Douglas Limbaugh, the man who authorities say ended that dream, reportedly rode up to the scene on a bicycle and shot Corona through the neck with a semiautomatic pistol. He then fired several more rounds, including at Corona, before disappearing into the chaos.
Firefighters already on scene for the accident aided the fallen officer not far from their bullet-struck engine, said department spokesman Lt. Paul Doroshov. Corona was rushed to UC Davis Medical Center, where she died.
“Despite the life-saving efforts of everyone involved, she didn’t make it,” Doroshov told reporters on Friday.
The unprovoked attack prompted calls for residents to shelter in place and a multiagency manhunt that ended when the suspect was found dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. In the days since, some troubling details have emerged about Limbaugh and the damage he wrought.
As The Sacramento Bee reported, the 48-year-old Limbaugh had been ordered to surrender an AR15 rifle following a misdemeanor conviction related to a fight he had last fall with a coworker at Cache Creek Casino. The Bee reported that Limbaugh agreed to surrender the rifle in November.
Online Yolo Superior Court records show a bench warrant was issued for Limbaugh on December 26, though it doesn’t specify for what or whether it was resolved. A previous bench warrant in the assault case was recalled in November.
Two semiautomatic handguns were recovered at the rental home where Limbaugh lived and where he was found dead after the shooting.
Inside the rental, authorities also found a brief note, signed by a “Citizen Kevin Limbaugh,” in which the suspect apparently blamed the Davis Police Department for afflicting him “with ultra sonic waves meant to keep dogs from barking.”
“I notified the press, internal affairs, and even the FBI about it,” the letter read. “I am highly sensitive to its affect [sic] on my inner ear. I did my best to appease them, but they have continued for years and I can’t live this way anymore.”
Even though the shooting occurred in Davis, the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department is conducting the investigation, Doroshov said.
Corona was one of approximately 60 sworn officers working at the department. Doroshov described her as positive and well-liked within the small agency, and as someone everyone knew or wanted to know. That became even more apparent as heartfelt tributes poured in for the small-town girl who followed her father into law enforcement.
A memorial service was scheduled to take place January 18 in Davis, followed by a burial in Corona’s hometown of Arbuckle.
According to the FBI, 53 law enforcement officers were feloniously killed last year through December 18, all but four in shootings. Eleven of the victims were ambushed and 21 died from bullet wounds to the head.
A clicking trigger anda near miss
The ambush on Corona happened just four days after a Sacramento police officer survived a harrowing encounter with an armed suspect on the grounds of a public housing complex.
The incident started shortly after 2 a.m. on January 6, when a patrol officer attempted to pull over a car with an expired registration near Vallejo Way and Fifth Street. In-car and body-worn camera footage show a meandering car that doesn’t stop right away for the flashing siren lights behind it, cresting over speed bumps on a residential street flanked by public housing units.
The car suddenly jerks to a halt and the driver bursts into the dark. The officer shouts commands at the fleeing suspect and descriptions into his microphone.
There’s a brief, eerie lull when the officer loses sight of the man and his body camera swivels over shadow-draped buildings and hedges. The officer spots the suspect, who bolts again. The officer catches up and the two go down. The officer’s body camera is knocked loose and stares up at a bare tree as the two struggle.
According to the department, the suspect gets to his feet. Standing a short distance away, the officer pulls and points his Tazer. Audio from the fallen body cam captures the moment.
“You’re gonna get tazed!” the officer says.
There’s a clear, hollow click.
The suspect says, “Shoot your ass. Gonna shoot you right now.”
The Tazer pops, there’s a crackle and the suspect moans, “Ahh.”
The department said its officer then attempted to detain the suspect, and only then discovered a gun in the man’s hand.
The officer yells, “Gun, gun!”
The body camera picks up the sounds of a scuffle, with grunts and the officer groaning in pain.
The department stated that the suspect bit the hand that tried to get the gun away. The officer’s voice goes frantic.
“You’re gonna get shot! You’re gonna get shot!”
The suspect bargains.
But the thrashing sounds continue. They debate and wrestle all at once, for almost 90 long seconds, until a second officer arrives and helps get the suspect under control and snaps the cuffs on.
Police identified the attempted shooter as 33-year-old Artavious Deyoung Coleman, wanted in Dallas on a felony warrant for failing to register as a sex offender. The gun allegedly taken off Coleman was a .380-caliber pistol with several rounds in the clip, none racked in the chamber, police said.
“It’s fortunate there was no round in the chamber,” said police spokesman Sgt. Vance Chandler. “That’s not something that’s easy to face, no matter how much you prepare or how much you train for this type of incident.”
Online jail logs have Coleman listed as 5-foot-11 and 200 pounds. He was arraigned January 8 in Sacramento Superior Court on five felonies, including attempted murder.
Chandler couldn’t say whether Coleman had the pistol pointed when he allegedly pulled the trigger, as the officer who arrested him didn’t discover the gun until he felt it in Coleman’s hand.